Everyone has a night or two when they don’t sleep well. There are plenty of causes, including daily stress, poor food choices, and overstimulation from television or mobile screens. But for men and women with diabetes, getting restful, restorative sleep can be especially challenging. According to researchers, good quality sleep improves glucose metabolism, reduces daytime fatigue, and can even contribute to better adherence to your diabetes treatment plan compared to when you don’t get enough rest. Despite this fact, estimates show that 40% to 50% of adults with diabetes report trouble sleeping.
Even though diabetes and sleep directly affect one another, you can take a few simple steps to improve your quality of sleep.
1. Turn off screens early.
Watching television or staring at your phone right before going to sleep prevents your body from releasing the hormones necessary to induce sleep. When possible, avoid screens for an hour or two before bed so your body can start winding down. When you can’t avoid your phone, try a screen cover or an app that filters blue light, the culprit of screen-induced sleep disturbances.
2. Prevent blood sugar swings.
Peaks and valleys in blood glucose levels at night can cause restlessness, nightmares, and fitful sleep. Talk to your doctor or diabetes educator about ways to adjust your medications, diet, or activity level to reduce nighttime highs or lows. If you use an insulin pump that allows you to create personal profiles that adjust a combination of insulin pump settings simultaneously, you may be able to control your nighttime basal rate with more accuracy.
3. Develop a nighttime routine.
Sleep doctors generally agree that a consistent nighttime routine contributes to better sleep. Try going to bed at the same time each night, taking a warm shower before bed, dimming the lights, reading a book, or doing another quiet activity until you feel sleepy.
4. Avoid alcohol and caffeine before bed.
Everyone with diabetes should know the risks of drinking alcohol. If you do drink a glass of wine before bed, just know that while you may fall asleep more easily, you’ll be more likely to wake up before you’ve gotten enough rest. Also try to avoid stimulants like caffeine.
5. Keep your room cool.
The ideal temperature for good sleep is around. A room that’s too warm can cause you to sleep lightly. To keep cool, try turning on the air, using a fan, or lightening your blankets.
Good sleep influences your blood sugar levels during the day, so do your best to get the quality and quantity of rest you need each night. Look for the root cause of your sleep issues and experiment with these tips for a long-term solution. If you continue to have trouble, talk to your doctor about additional testing.